The Best Dance and Fitness Classes in Philadelphia

Can a fun, sassy dance class really be a good workout? (Yes. Absolutely yes.)

Dance Company | Photograph by Gene Smirnov” width=”940″ height=”540″ srcset=” 940w,×360.jpg 627w,×441.jpg 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 940px) 100vw, 940px”/>

Hip Hop for Beginners at the Koresh Dance Company | Photograph by Gene Smirnov

My legs are shaking, sweat is pouring into my eyes, and for about three minutes in the middle of it all, I have to focus what little energy I have left on not throwing up. It’s true, I just do aerobics in Rock Steady from the Lithe Method class, but it’s intense aerobics. Aerobic dance on Four Loko. With complex choreography. I wonder: is this how Kevin Bacon felt while working on Free from all ties? Probably not – Kevin Bacon wasn’t strapped to the ceiling with stretch bands for extra strength. He also didn’t take any breaks to engage in a series of hard-core arms/abs/legs. No, it’s definitely harder than anything anyone’s ever done – so when I finally figured out the moves and pushed through the whole routine (without throwing up) it’s a major high. I kill him. Forget Kevin: I’m basically a Laker Girl.

Still, I’m not going to lie: I’m relieved when Cardio Bellydance at Philly Dance Fitness turns out to be moving at a less frenetic pace. The class builds steadily from the moment you put on your hip sling, as you work on individual moves that are then put together into a routine. The more experienced belly dancers in the class are adept at moving their hips independently of their core; my subtle shimmies are more like full body jerks. (A good hip lift takes practice, obviously.) Regardless – the vibe is non-judgmental, and my abs and obliques are so sore in all the right places the next day that I’m sure I’ve worked the same ones. muscles while dancing that Shakira does, although our techniques vary.

In fact, I still feel the belly dancing burn a few days later when I pass Vavoom Cardio Burlesque by Ploome, which offers even more of a full-body strengthening workout but shares the same friendly energy: something about combining your squats with bootie bumps, working the hair between leg raises and mesh planks with sexy body rolls creates an instant party vibe, even if it’s Saturday morning and you’re wearing your Gap sports bra. (The Beyoncé soundtrack helps.)

Hands down, however, the best of all dance workouts is Hip Hop for Beginners at the Koresh Dance Company, where instructor Tyger B really expects a lot from his students. For the most part, he gets it, probably because the music, the moves, and – let’s be honest – his physique are nothing short of awe-inspiring. If you’ve watched even one J.Lo video in your life, you know that hip-hop dancing requires high levels of energy, focus, and precision: halfway through class, I sweat through my top, after 25 tries getting my steps, pops and slides to feel as cool and clean as Tyger’s. It may take a few return visits.

This article first appeared in 2015 Be well Philly printed journal. To get a free copy for yourself, go here.

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